Genres: Science Fiction, Space Opera
I have received this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
This highly underrated book is among my favorite sci-fi reads this year! Free Chocolate is a space opera set around 150 years into the future, where Earth has chocolate as their main export and must protect its seeds from aliens at all costs, even if it means keeping your borders closed and animosity at high level. The story follows Bo as she plans to steal cocoa beans with the help of her boyfriend Brill, who is a Krom, the alien species who first invaded earth and stole coffee beans – and is now after the cocoa, too!
This universe is really cool! If you love adventure, chocolate and some political drama, I think you’ll like this book very much. The main character is a Mexican girl who also lived in Brazil, and there is lots of Spanish here and there, which gave the narrator such a unique voice. I did find her a bit too interjecting, which broke the narrative for me, but I do understand – she was after all in danger all the time, and who wouldn’t be constantly screaming at that?
Characters from Earth (and also Brill) have sublingual communication devices, meaning they get calls inside their ears a lot, which created for me some confusion during the reading. Bo will be running for her life and take a call from her mom and try to sound chirpy, or will be half dead and take a call from her friend to solve another problem… my point is, it made the subplots mix up a little and required quite some attention to keep up. It was not a very “unputdownable” book either, so I think it won’t be a book everyone will love. It could surely have been shorter. Meaning, it’s a book to savor (see what I did there?), instead of finishing down in one afternoon.
But I did love it, I loved the politics, I love the Krom species and how close to earthlings they were, but also completely different. I don’t approve of Brill, but that is my personal thing. I think Bo deserves better.
In any case, the plot was great, the complexity of relationships between species was great and I love the whole chocolate-centered economy. I also loved all the Brazil mentions (hehehe) and now I’m craving moqueca de camarão as well. This book requires a little patience, but it’s totally worth it!
I must have eaten two chocolate bars while reading it (and writing this review is making me crave more chocolate)!